How to run a pretty cool web site for nearly free.
1st get the domain.  You will pay about $10 for the year. That's it.  Don't spend any more! (unless it's to me ;)
I use http://mydomain.com but godaddy, enom, or any of those will do.  You can wait and get your domain via Google when you sign up for Google Apps this makes some things easier like adding a Cname listing for new sites but you also want to have other domain management tools you can use. See more about set up here.
In choosing the domain hosting, pick one that has domain management tools plus URL forwarding. You don't need email from the domain host if you are going to use Google. Keep in mind that the domain is just a listing.  It's like getting your name into the phone book. It doesn't mean you have any web space just like the listing in the phone book doesn't give you a phone.  That's fine though. Don't be fooled into thinking it's only a "real domain" if it's packaged with web hosting.  Your domain is no less real than a phone listing that you didn't pay the phone company for. 

Now for the web hosting.  You can pay big bucks for an account that you can FTP to or even small bucks, like $5 per month, for a template kind of site that you get easy to use tools to build your site.  But if you are going to have to do a little work yourself anyway why pay anything?  I say go with free and see if you like it.  That's why I use Google Apps.  It's sort of a template type web site hosting with a whole lot of tools, like email, calendar, and documents, and a whole lot of flexibility.  Now before you get to thinking I get a kick back from Google, it seems that they don't even want people to know about the free version of this stuff.  Unless you search for it, you won't find it, but I'll give you the link: http://www.google.com/a/cpanel/domain/new is where you can sign up for what's called the standard edition of Google Apps.
Once you sign up you can then begin to set up things by following the instructions including verifying your domain.

They also have a step by step guide to setting up your new Google Apps account but some of it is directed toward the "premier accounts" or education and non-profit.


About me:
I've made websites for years mostly as a hobby.  I've done it for myself, family, and for organizations that I'm involved in. I've found it most enjoyable when it involves my interests.  That's why I think the best sites are created and run by the owners rather than some of the cookie cutter website creators.
After starting YorkTeaParty.org  and working with other organizations with similar goals I found that integrating the information from many different types of sites was difficult.  One main goal of this site is to promote Google's tools to help make the information more uniform and easier to share.  So, whether you want to be part of this domain or want one of your own, I'll try and share what I know and you can let me know if it helps.
See links to some examples of my sites and more free info in User Instructions pages and more about me at http://alexanderofyork.com and email me at alexanderofyork@ofVA.US
 
http://yoursite.


ofVA.US is for anyone or any organization that is of Virginia either geographically or otherwise.

  If you are interested in having a sub-domain.ofVA.US let me know. ( putme@ofVA.US )  For a one time $20 I will set up and  maintain that sub-domain.  That's not much, truth is, it's not much to do.  I'm not going to set up your whole site. You'll to that.  It's easy and, other than the domain, it's free.  In fact I've done it for several sites with free tools from Google and I like it so much that I wanted to get more people doing it so we can share things like calendars.  Even if you are not going to run a web site at all, consider getting a Google Account and using the Calendar and let me know if you want to post a public calendar.

Free Stuff from Google:
  • Google Accounts - http://www.google.com/accounts  If you don't have a Google Account you can create a new account using your current email address (even if it's not gmail) or use a new @ofVA.US email address. Once you've created one or if you already have a Google Account you can also add emails to that account and continue using the same resources.
  • Google Apps - http://www.google.com/a/ This is like a suite of the main Google Applications. (Note if you follow the link, the first thing you see is the promo page for the business version. You'll want to start with the "Standard" edition.) You'll get a control panel page at www.google.com/a/yourdomain that helps you set up and control the following applications.
  • Email - Well you may know about gmail. If you use Google Apps for your domain you get 50 free email accounts. And the work just as well as gmail.
  • Calendar - http://www.google.com/calendar  Once you have a Google account or if you start a Google Apps account you will be able to see your calendar and any calendars you've been invited to.  It's also easy to embed Google calendars into web pages such as seen at Events.ofVA.US
  • Google Docs - http://docs.google.com  You'll find a suite of programs similar to MS Office but even better. You can use it online from anywhere, control how documents are shared published and more.
  • Googe Sites - http://sites.google.com  Now this is the heart of what will be the face of your organization.  I've tried several types of online web page editing systems and this one ranks with the best. It gives you more flexibility than most and yet it's easy enough for beginners.


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